CHP recommends vehicular manslaughter charge against sheriff deputy

BAKERSFIELD, Calif - The Kern County District Attorney's office has still not decided whether to file charges against a sheriff's deputy for the crash that killed two pedestrians in December 2011.

Supervising Deputy D.A. Michael Yraceburn would not comment on the accident report by the Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation team, but Bakersfield Attorney David Cohn, who is representing one of the victim's families, told 23ABC that the report determined that Deputy John Swearengin was the primary cause of the collision that killed Daniel Hiler and Chrystal Jolley on December 16, 2011.

The investigation determined that Swearengin violated two sections of the penal code, including vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

Cohn said the report determined that Swearengin was responding to a call of grand theft auto at the time of the crash and was driving his patrol car without lights and sirens at nearly 85 mph in a 45 mph zone.

Hiler and Jolley  were struck by Swearengin's patrol car while crossing Norris Road at 7:30 p.m.  They were pronounced dead at the scene.

He also said that Swearengin had patrolled the area of Oildale where the accident occurred for the past four years and was familiar with the roadway and seeing pedestrian traffic.

Cohn said the report found that Swearengin chose not to activate his forward red lamp or siren, and that if he had been driving the speed limit, Hiler and Jolley would have had time to clear the roadway before his patrol car arrived.

Cohn says he's representing Hiler's two children and fiance in a civil suit against the County.  A trial date has been set for August 5, 2013.

Yraceburn said there is no timetable for when his department will decide on whether criminal charges will be filed.

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